Matt Galloway

My home on the 'net.

What is it with people and free apps?

So we have just released a new version of BeerMap which is an iPhone app that I created with a couple of friends. It’s had a long life and has changed significantly in this latest update because, to be honest, it was quite confusing to use. We didn’t really have a plan for it before but now we do and we’re executing it step by step.

Since 2.2 went live we’ve seen a lot more uptake of the app with more people reviewing beers and even some of the social media integration being used in the app which is exactly what we wanted. We wanted to push the app in a more social direction rather than just reviewing beers and pubs. If you’re simply reviewing beers and pubs then you need critical mass of users before any of that data becomes usable. So opting for the more Twitter-like style of a review now being a “Taste” and having a timeline of realtime “Tastes” coming in, the idea becomes like a way to tell the world what you think about the beer you’re drinking right now. We kept the idea of pubs (or places as we call them, because it might be a pub, a bar, a beer festival, etc) but you cannot actually review a pub. This serves the purpose of making the app simpler to understand because there’s just one first class citizen and that’s the “Taste”.

But, I’m sad now. Why is it that people decide for themselves what an app should do? Why is it that people writing reviews for apps cannot be constructive? Why is it that people think that free apps should be 100% perfect straight away? Here’s a review we got a day after 2.2 came out:

[1 star] – Why hasn’t beerintheevening got an app? This is not a satisfactory substitute – it neither adequately provides user reviews of pubs nor does it review beers. FAIL.

This was coupled with a support email request which goes further to complain about the app and how they failed to read the instructions for adding a new pub (it’s really not that complicated).

We’ll see what the future holds for BeerMap. I sincerely hope that it’s good things because I think that there’s a definite use for an app like this, especially in the UK where beer can vary between parts of the country so you want a way to find a pub that’s great.